Insurance and Pirates

Dave Hardy tells us about some perspective on allowing crews to arm themselves against pirates from someone in the Insurance business.  It’s interesting about the crewman suing Maersk for failing to provide a safe work environment.  As much as I wish this would change things, it’s one of the reasons so few merchant vessels are registered in the United States.  Safe work environments aren’t a problem for the government of say, Liberia.

But this kind of calculation has always bothered me.  You have two entities, the shipowner and the insurer, essentially colluding to declare the crew expendable commodities, just like the ship’s cargo.  If the left are really so big on workers rights, this sort of things should absolutely concern them.  It’s exactly the same calculation used by most employers to ban any sort of firearm or self-defense enabling device in the workplace — that your personal safety is less important than the possibility the company may be sued.

It’s wrong in both cases, it’s just a much more stark examples when we’re talking about merchant vessel crews who are likely to faced armed pirates.

2 thoughts on “Insurance and Pirates”

  1. It would be interesting to see if things changed if employers were sued because an employee was hurt or killed because they were not allowed to be armed.

    Although the employer could argue the employment contract was voluntary, a counter argument could be made here in France California, as work place disarmament is nearly universal.

  2. From a business standpoint employees are cost factor. They are needed and provide a service or increase production, but shippers with higher fuel costs and lower demand for shipping services in a world wide recession try to keep crew cost low. That is why so many Filipino are crew, -cheap labor. They are less likely to sucessfully sue. The Maresk crewmember that has sued is US and has added ability to pursue in US courts which look favorably on self defense arguements.

    Also due to high fuel cost I heard that shippers order ships to travel at 10 knots or less which is slow enough to allow pirates to approach. Obviously the ability to transfer the risk and cost of ransom to insurance companies will change the insurance companies requirement and that business model will probably change.

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